Las Vegas (June 27, 2003) -- According to top CPA technologist and outgoing AccTrak21chief executive Wayne Harding, use of Web portals can address five essential areas CPAs need to grow and succeed. These include online education, research, firm management, marketing, and personalization.

Harding mapped out these "essentials" here at the American Institute of CPAs' Information Technology Conference.

“There are a number of places you can go and learn about these five key areas, but I have found using specific Web portals to be among the most informative,” Harding said.

Some of the sites Harding recommended as “the best information for CPAs” include AICPA.org, CPA2Biz, AccountingWeb, AccountantsWorld, CCHGroup.com, and WebCPA.

Of the five areas, online education garnered the most attention and queries from attendees. For CPE credits, Harding pointed attendees to Infobytes, AICPA Financial Pro and Practice Pro.

He also mentioned the AICPA’s competency assessment tool, or CAT, for those who wish to evaluate what specific education they may need. Harding also suggested IdentiRisk.com where CPAs can purchase courses to download, ask questions about client needs, and receive analysis on “skills that need the most attention.”

Harding rattled off sites to visit for practice management and industry research, including those from CCH, Thomson/RIA, and PricewaterhouseCoopers. But firm marketing and personalization garnered particular interest from those in this late-day session.

Email marketing was Harding’s method of choice as he referred specifically to bizactions.com, a site where firms can receive help on the creation and response tracking of email newsletters. He also said search engine optimization was another effective marketing option.

“The real takeaway here is that the Net isn’t dead and the technologies available to you are essential tools, just pick a few vendors and stay with them,” Harding said.

-- Seth Fineberg

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